As winter approaches and temperatures continue to drop, many people start developing a yearly tendency that’s difficult to resist: making excuses for not exercising. With shorter and colder days, increasingly busy schedules and a possible lack of motivation to brave the outdoors, it’s a common affliction to let so much of the hard work you put in during warmer months slide as we slack on physical activity.
This year, don’t fall into the seasonal trap and keep yourself active even it might be less comfortable. Maintaining proper fitness during colder months has a load of benefits, including higher energy levels (which can drop in the cold), a boost to your immune system and an ability to actually burn more calories. In addition, working out in the cold has been shown to release more of the “feel-good” hormones known as endorphins, which can help in curing the “winter blues” many experience.
With enough motivation and preparation, you can get active outdoors and take extra pride in knowing that you’re conquering the cold. Here are some tips to help guide you:
- Start gradually to ensure you’re in proper shape before exercising, and don’t do as much as you normally would until you’re comfortable
- Warm up and stretch before, cool down after, and be sure to stay properly hydrated at all stages of your workout to avoid dehydration
- Dress in layers: dressing warmly helps to prevent strains and pulls, but don’t overdress and make sure you can shed layers as your workout progresses to prevent too much sweat from accumulating
- Wear a hat or headband, since up to 50% of your body heat is lost through the head and neck
- Protect your hands with gloves and feet with thermal socks in extreme cold
- Look out for black ice when running on the street to avoid slipping
- Pay attention to the weather forecast and wind chill, and consider taking a day off or head indoors when it drops below 0˚F
For those days when it’s too cold to go outdoors or if you’d prefer to mix it up indoors too, a number of cross-training alternatives also exist. These include: swimming, indoor cycling, pool running, indoor rowing, fitness boot camp, elliptical machines and plyometrics (high-intensity, explosive exercises).
If you’d like more guidance on how to best tackle the colder months and stay in shape, or for any other aches or pains you might have, visit us at Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates. We’ll be glad to assist you and get you moving, regardless of the temperature.